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What I did on my London Holiday 2015

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Annual summary of what I did on my holiday post…

Bank of England Building open day & Museum well worth the visit but almost two hours of standing waiting to go in for a thirty minute tour might put off the less determined.  Really interesting to see rooms normally closed to the public and the first of two excellent carpets that unexpectedly bookended this trip.

Serpentine Pavilion 2015 – will get a post all of its own as soon as I’ve assembled a gallery for it.  But in short

Sonia Delaunay (Tate Modern) very colourful abstract works including some costume design and fashion.

Agnes Martin (Tate Modern) far more subdued palette than Delaunay.  Lots of experiments with horizontal bars and lines of grids.  Being honest I didn’t find this one particularly engaging although there were a few interesting pieces made from found materials from her early career.

The Beaux’ Stratagem (The National Theatre) has had mixed reviews but I enjoyed it as a rather fun comedy.

Churchill’s Scientists (Science Museum) – there are some really nice exhibits in this free exhibition.  Like the Alan Turing exhibition last year this one lacks depth as we are dashed from RADAR to operational research, to rationing, to the A-Bomb, to the post war era.  Any one of these subjects could have filled the space taken for the whole exhibition.  Maybe a little more biographical information would help too.

Revelations: Experiments in Photography (Science Museum) is a wonderful collection of scientific images.  It starts with a room where the early works complement Tate Britain’s Salt and Silver from earlier in the year.  It then moves on through two more rooms – the first brings us up to the late 1970s and the second is modern artistic works reflecting on the early scientific photographs.  Well worth the £8.

Cosmos & Culture (Science Museum) hidden away almost at the back of the museum on the first floor past the ageing display of farm machinery (which seems a strange survivor from an earlier age now the room of ship models is no more) without any promotion in the building I could see this little exhibition includes an array of devices devised by humanity to study the sky.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year (Natural History Museum) stunning pictures of nature (shock!) about the same size as Revelations: Experiments in Photography but £14 instead of £8 and with a plethora of goodies in the shop at the end compared to the Science Museum.  Busy but not blockbuster crowded to the rafters.

William Smith: The Father of English Geology (Natural History Museum) is the Natural History Museum’s equivalent of Cosmos & Culture. Small, perfectly formed and virtually unpublicised.  A selection of maps and fossils from William Smith’s collection that he sold to the museum to pay off debts.

Design of the Year (Design Museum) – this one ought to get its own post too as soon as I get some time.  As always very good.

Life on Foot (Design Museum) – by far the best and most interesting shoe related exhibition I’ve seen at the Design Museum.  The unassembled shoe parts with the shoes, tools and films of assembly make this more than just a room full of shoes.

Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World (Tate Britain) is a joy for anyone who loves Hepworth’s sculptures and also includes works by her contemporaries.  And check out the Barbara Hepworth inspired Summer Garden. Can I keep one (just a little one)?  Please?

The Importance of Being Earnest (Vaudeville Theatre) is a brilliantly funny play done very well.

The Institute of Sexology (Wellcome Collection) suffered for being first thing on a last day and a group going round but was a nicely assembled exhibition on a smaller scale. Very definitely adult only.  Love what they’ve done with the Wellcome exhibition space since I was last there.  Spiral staircase is worth nipping in to see just on its own.

The Brutalist Playground (RIBA) was a surprise as from the write up I’d not worked out it’s a full-sized recreation of elements of three playgrounds from housing estates.  Recreated using soft play material rather than concrete.  There is an accompanying room with a wall of documents and a video.

Bonaparte and the British (British Museum) is a fascinating collection of prints and propoganda about Bonaparte divided into four periods of his fame.

Shifting patterns – Pacific barkcloth clothing (British Museum) I literally stumbled into and out of this one (four days of continual exhibition fun taking their toll) and would probably have been more inspired if I’d seen it earlier in the trip.

The Prince and the Pir – dervishes and mysticism in Iran and India (British Museum) refreshed from a long sit with a cold drink in the courtyard I ventured back to the displays one last time.  This small collection of art, artefacts and the second magnificent carpet was a good finish to my trip.

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